Janice Fialka -- Bio
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Janice Fialka, LMSW, ACSW is a nationally-recognized lecturer, author, and advocate on issues related to disability, parent-professional partnerships, inclusion, raising a child with disabilities, sibling issues, and post-secondary education. She is also a parent, poet, a compelling storyteller, and an award-winning advocate for families and persons with disabilities.
A sought-after presenter, Janice has provided the keynote address and workshops at numerous renowned national, state, and local conferences throughout the United States and Canada. Janice also conducts workshops for schools, human service organizations, and parent and advocacy groups.
Twenty years ago, Janice established herself as a major contributor to the national conversation about parent-professional partnerships through her highly-regarded writings, keynote, and workshops titled, The Dance of Partnership: Why do my feet hurt? She reflects with sensitivity, humor, and compassion on the challenges facing parents and professionals as they seek to build successful working relationships on behalf of children with disabilities. Janice speaks and writes from both her unique vantage point as the mother of Micah, her adult son with an intellectual disability and as an experienced social worker of 40 years. Her writings are published widely in textbooks, journals, and family and professional publications. Janice's trainings and writings are empowering, deeply engaging, and always practical.
Learn more about her son, Micah Fialka Feldman, a disability activist and speaker. Micah was recently appointed to the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
|Put on your dancing shoes and explore!
|About Janice Fialka
Meet Janice and learn about her philosophy and how she creatively uses the dance metaphor to empower others to discover their courage to dream.
|Workshops & Trainings
Janice presents workshops on numerous topics. Learn more about her trainings on parent professional partnerships. Contact her for your next event.
Workshops & Trainings >>
|Publications & DVDs
Explore Janice's publications, books, poetry, and her award-winning DVD, co-produced with her husband Rich Feldman, Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College.
Janice's Newest Articles (Discover more articles and essays)
|Over the years, Janice has written several essays about being Micah's mother. Her stories are honest, insightful, and full of practical ways she's discovered to support her son's dreams, full inclusion, and great expectations for his life.
These recently added articles can be downloaded for free.
Nudging the Network (PDF) - Janice and her family learn that it takes regular, open and intentional conversations to support Micah's peers and community to include him in 5th grade basketball games, at the prom, in school, and in the community. (2008)
Detours, Not Dead Ends: Micah's dream to live in a dorm (PDF) - Janice tells the story of how Micah's university friends supported him when he was denied his right to live in the dorm. Included are lessons learned about ways to support Micah as he moved into adulthood. (2008)
What's a Parent to Do? Micah's College Dream (PDF) - Janice shares how she and her husband learned to listen and support Micah's dream to go to college. She describes how parents have to move from being 'protectors' to 'guides' of their children. Included in her essay are several practical principles that guide her family as they shift in their parenting role. This article is followed by The Power of Inclusion: Personal Reflections on Creating Change written by Shea Howell, PhD, a university professor who was one of Micah's professors. (2011)
Hidden Treasures Behind Closed Doors (PDF) - Janice and her husband, Rich tell the story of Micah's long legal battle to live in the dorm. She describes how this fight transformed his community and strengthened his self confidence, capacity to advocate, and connection to his expanding circle. This article is followed by Micah's The Power of Inclusion: Personal Reflections on Creating Change. The third article in this series is written by Micah's sister, Emma Fialka Feldman, My Brother's Journey: A Sibling's Perspective about College and What Comes Next. (2013)
Essay by Janice (2013): How Roger Ebert's clarity and courage helped me redefine my son's disability.
Interview with Janice (2013): Janice talks about Micah's birth and childhood and how she and her family came to expect that Micah be welcomed as a valued member of the community and school, not in spite of his "disability" but because, like everyone, his experience is unique and essential to the whole.
Janice's Newest Publication
Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities: A Dance That Matters
By Janice M. Fialka, Arlene K. Feldman and Karen C. Mikus
Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull
Nominated for the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers!
Written from both the parents and the professionals points-of-view, this book is rich with stories, examples, and practical suggestions. Using dance as a metaphor, the authors provide a developmental approach to understanding and forging positive adult relationships while showing concrete ways to advocate for and with children.
Read what people are saying about the book.
To order the book, visit Publications.
|"Rarely does a book hold such promise for promoting genuine partnerships between professionals and families of children with disabilities. The real-life passages, from the authors, seasoned parents and experienced professionals infuse this work with practical approaches and unparalleled authenticity."
—Susan Addison, Special Educator, Retired, Chattanooga, TN
"Using understandable, jargon-free language, the authors help professionals and parents understand each others viewpoints. I highly recommend his book for novice and veteran parents and professionals."
—Stephanie Smith Lee, Former Director, Office of Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education
Poems by Janice:
|What people say about Janice:
"She speaks with passion, wisdom, and heart. She is easily capable of moving you to tears, with her personal stories, while providing precious pearls of wisdom for parents and professionals."
--Joseph Manary, Counselor, Alpena, Michigan
"Janice, you were the star of Marylands State Department of Education's Annual Conference! Our thanks goes to you for bringing your message to families and professionals in such a compassionate, humorous, and personal way. You moved an entire room of people to tears, and good tears, for it was through your story that we all made personal realizations necessary for transforming our work as partners."
--Valerie Von Behren, Maryland State Department of Education